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Directed by two-time Academy Award winner Ron Howard

"Rush" is a fable. Sure, director Ron Howard's thrill-ride is based on a legendary season in Formula 1 racing, but the movie (with its light and dark rivals and its doubling of themes) has the layers of a bedtime tale — albeit a rumbling and roaring, at times randy and romantic one. In 1976, the Formula 1 racing world was treated to an intense, dangerous, star-making rivalry that pitted James Hunt, an upstart with playboy elan, against Austrian automotive rationalist and world champion Nikk Lauda. Handsome and present, Chris Hemsworth brings the right stuff to the Brit Hunt. This is the world pre-HIV, pro-birth control. "Rush" has sex, drugs and the appropriate soundtrack. When Hunt wanders into an ER after a race, he gets nursed in every way. Next day, that healer is cheering him on. Busy actor Daniel Brühl does moody work as the dour Lauda, who turns his back on the family's banking business to race cars. "Rush" opens on a rainy racetrack in Germany. Luada narrates. His voice here comes as something of a surprise. After all, Hunt is the type of protagonist women want to be with and men want to be, as the saying goes. Even Lauda is aware of this. Like a rash of films this season, "Rush" begins in a particularly potent moment, then goes back in time before looping, then passes where it began. It's a deft way to recount how the two men — so seemingly different — wound up spending a life-altering year chasing points, chasing each other, chasing glory, all the time tempting fate. With 12 F1 fatalities, the 1970s was a particularly deadly decade. While Lauda and Hunt's differences are underscored, the film smartly, subtly touches on their similarities. There's something visually resonant about Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara in their roles as Suzy Miller (Hunt's wife) and Marlene Lauda. Although the actresses don't look alike really, their casting adds to a sense of cosmic affinity. "Rush" fires on all cylinders: Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography is ultra-aware of the sexy-cool-moneyed vibe that permeated that world but also of the steely, arousing vigor of machines. Howard relies on the two editors, Mike Hill and Dan Hanley, he gathered for "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind." The casting of the movie's leads is impeccable. Writer Peter Morgan ("The Queen," "Frost/Nixon") understands the lure and burden of power, in this case personal charisma and horsepower. It is not just the adrenaline jitters induced by the action that makes "Rush" among Howard's best films. Indeed it would be a mistake to think because it has guys, gals and cars that it was somehow late for its summer flick start time. "Rush" takes seriously risk, calling, competition. This is a deeply adult drama, not least because Howard shows the costs of being so driven in a sport in which a driver is encased in a potential fireball. By Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post Film Critic Official Trailer
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Directed by: 
Ron Howard
Running Time: 
Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, David Calder
Screenplay by: 
Peter Morgan

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